A Case of You
Distributor: IFC Films
Sam (Justin Long) is a successful writer -- albeit not a very fulfilled one, since so far he's only published work-for-hire novelizations of "Twilight"-esque film franchise "Teen Vampire" -- smitten with the girl behind the counter of his favorite Brooklyn cafe. Convinced that Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood) will be attracted to him only if he already has the "man of her dreams" characteristics, he goes overboard researching her "likes" on Facebook, claiming to have a number of skills and interests she finds "cool." Thus he frantically enrolls in guitar, cooking and judo lessons, traipses along with her to ballroom dancing and rock-wall climbing, etc. That he enjoys (let alone is good at) none of these things is trumped by the fear that the mildly adventurous Birdie would dump him if she knew how boring he really was.
-- Dennis Harvey
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Reaching for the Moon
Distributor: Wolfe Releasing/Dada Films
The very private American poet Elizabeth Bishop was famously opposed to the confessional style favored by her peers: "Art just isn't worth that much," she once wrote to her friend Robert Lowell. It's not damning, then, to say she'd have been mortified by Bruno Barreto's intimate, affecting, somewhat lumpily paced biopic, which focuses chiefly on Bishop's 15-year lesbian relationship with headstrong Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. Boasting intelligent performances by Miranda Otto and Gloria Pires as the chalk-and-cheese lovers, attractively mounted pic could please older upscale auds, while also working the more genteel end of the LGBT fest circuit.
-- Guy Lodge
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The Motel Life
Distributor:
FilmBuff
Two bad-egg brothers escape into stories of their own making to forget about their hard-knock existence in "The Motel Life," from fraternal producers-turned-helmers Alan and Gabriel Polsky. But their adaptation of Willy Vlautin's Nevada-set novel is so full of explanatory flashbacks and animated sequences visualizing the characters' invented yarns that their real dramas are indeed almost obscured. However, the presence of Stephen Dorff and Emile Hirsch, the latter on a white-trash roll after "Killer Joe" and "Savages," should help attract indie-loving eyeballs, at least on VOD and in Euro niche release.
-- Boyd van Hoeij
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Medora
Small victories -- indeed, victories of any sort -- are all the more welcome for being so rare in "Medora," a bleakly potent portrait of life in an economically devastated Middle American town. While focusing on the community's chronically winless high school basketball team -- whose players, like many grown-ups in town, have begun to accept defeat as a natural state of being -- filmmakers Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart uncover and illuminate a strain of stoic resilience that could be the last best defense against bottomless despair. Unfortunately, as "Medora" repeatedly suggests, that invaluable resource may not be inexhaustible.
-- Joe Leydon
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